Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has taken the guesswork out of fishing with kids by designating certain ponds for youthful anglers and stocking them to help create positive angling experiences for youngsters.
Here is a quick survey of a few prime children’s fishing ponds in the state. For a detailed list, check the FWP web site, Children's Fishing Waters or contact the nearest FWP regional office. Please check your 2005 Montana Fishing Regulations for limits and restrictions before setting out.
Dry Bridge Pond is a three-acre family-fishing pond located in Dry Bridge City Park, at the corner of 11th St. East and Woodland Ave., in Kalispell. The pond is stocked annually with pan-sized and small rainbows, yellow perch, and offers lots of wildlife viewing opportunities. The best fishing is April, May and June, but the pond is open to fishing all summer. Adults are asked to voluntarily release their catch. The shoreline is gently sloping and tree-lined, with benches and a hiking path around the pond.
There are similar family fishing opportunities in Thompson Falls, Noxon, Troy and Eureka. For details, contact the FWP Regional office in Kalispell at 406-752-5501 to request a handout titled “Good Places To Take A Kid Fishing.”
Frenchtown Pond is a spring-fed lake with a maximum depth of about 10 feet. Anglers primarily catch largemouth bass. The pond offers fishing, swimming, sunbathing, sail boarding, canoeing and more. Only non-motorized craft are allowed. The pond is 15 miles west of Missoula on I-90 at Frenchtown Exit #89, then one mile west on the frontage road.
GOLD WEST COUNTRY
The Warm Springs Kid’s Pond is stocked annually with about 300 pan-sized rainbow trout. Fishing is limited to anglers 14 years of age and younger. Bait fishing is permitted. The pond is shallow and the banks are tree lined. Kids’ catch rates are high. The pond is on the grounds of the Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area. Take the west side frontage road between the junction of Montana Highway 1 and the I-90 entrance ramp. Parking is available on the east and north sides of the pond.
Spring Meadow Lake, at Spring Meadow Lake State Park on Montana Highway 12 just west of Helena, is a popular and safe environment for young anglers interested in trout and bass. The surrounding park invites family afternoons of swimming, sunbathing, scuba diving, bird watching and more. An easy-to-walk nature trail circles the lake and boasts a view of Mount Helena.
Fairgrounds Pond, also in Helena, is a kids-only pond stocked with catchable-sized rainbow trout.
Great Falls Area
Wadsworth Lake, a 40-acre fishing pond located on the northwest edge of Great Falls, is the site of a very popular annual kids fishing event. The lake is stocked with walleye, bass, and rainbow trout and supports yellow perch and bullheads.
The Giant Springs fishing pond is a small one-half acre slough along the Missouri River about one quarter mile upstream from the Giant Springs Fish Hatchery. This small pond is stocked with trout during the summer and is a popular destination for local kids.
The Missouri River at Giant Springs State Park offers rainbow and brown trout and is a popular area with good access for the disabled. The nearby Giant Springs Fish Hatchery makes an enjoyable field trip or break for young anglers, too.
The “Frog Ponds,” located within the town of Lewistown, were recently improved to provide fishing opportunities for kids. The ponds are stocked with trout. There is also an extensive trail system in the area.
Lewistown also offers excellent trout fishing opportunities on Big Spring Creek, which flows through the center of town. Two Fishing Access Sites, Brewery Flats on the south end of town and the K Bar L FAS on the north end of town, provide easy fishing access to Big Spring Creek.
Big Casino Reservoir and East Fork Reservoir also provide good fishing opportunities for youngsters close to Lewistown.
Sacajawea Lagoon is located in Sacajawea Park in Livingston, along the Yellowstone River. Youngsters enjoy the trout fishing and the surrounding park which offers activities like feeding the geese, picnicking, wading, swing sets, tennis and horseshoe pits--just in case the fishing gets slow.
At Lake Elmo at Lake Elmo State Park in northeast Billings, children can fish for many species, including rainbow trout, yellow perch, black crappie, brown trout, pumpkinseed and channel catfish. Park hours are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. yearround.
Miles City/Glendive/Baker Areas
Spotted Eagle Reservoir, near Miles City; Hollecker Reservoir, near Glendive; and Baker Lake, near Baker; all provide good warm water fisheries for youngsters. All three reservoirs range from 7-10 feet deep and support yellow perch and bullheads. Though catch rates vary, these stocked ponds provide fair opportunities for children to catch fish. Baker Lake may be the best opportunity, especially in the early spring.
MISSOURI RIVER COUNTRY
Home Run Pond is located in Sullivan Park on the southeastern edge of Glasgow. Hatchery trout and channel catfish are generally stocked in early summer, combined with transfers of wild fish, including black crappie and yellow perch in spring and summer. Check with the FWP Glasgow office for details on the children’s summer and winter fishing clinics planned. A playground and restrooms are available.
Fort Peck Area
Fort Peck Kids Pond is located on the east side of the Downstream Campground below For Peck Dam. Hatchery trout are stocked here annually in May.
Box Elder Reservoir in Plentywood is a community pond that offers "kid friendly" fishing.